Archive for the ‘diy’ Category

DIY Gilding Calligraphy with Deco Foil


This post is in partnership with Therm O Web’s Deco Foil™ line. I’ve been using this stuff for a couple of months now and I figured it was high time I shared with you how I use it! It’s incredibly easy and adds SO MUCH SPARKLE to your work (calligraphy or otherwise).


In the above image I’ve applied the metallic foil (I don’t dare say gold, because it’s not real gold) in 3 different ways; (from top) laminator, bone folder and die cut machine. My favorite is probably the die cut machine, second is the bone folder because of the application. But I’ll talk about that a little later.

The foils come in a zillion different colors. I’m excited to try the watercolor foils soon because of the subtle color variation from one spot to another. Here I’ve used Pink Melon (top), Rose Gold (middle) and Copper (bottom). I use the copper one the most, it photographs better than the lighter golds do, so I prefer that. Let’s go through the materials needed for this technique and just get going, shall we?



The supplies list feels kind of long to me; but I bet if you’re anything like me, you’ll have most of these things. For the instructions, click the read more button below!


DIY: The Lazy Girl’s Pillow Case


My in-laws have this oxford shirting sheet set that had me thinking that I (a) need that sheet set and (b) I could probably whip up a pillow to match asap with an old oxford shirt.


I haven’t taken the plunge for the sheet set (our kids are so gross, I’m sure it’d be stained with licorice goo or something within the first five minutes), but it’s on my radar. The pillow was a no-brainer. And took the equivalent in time to make (and photograph for this easy-peasy tutorial).


Grab a pillow, if you have an old cover you’re replacing, use that as your guide. If I don’t have to bust out the rulers, it’s a win in my opinion. Rulers just slow these Edward-scissorhands digits down. ;)


  • A large old Oxford shirt (I found mine at a local thrift store)
  • Pillow form
  • Old pillow cover as a template (or a ruler)
  • Oversized washers
  • Scissors/rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Sewing machine


Be sure to wash and iron the shirt beforehand for best results.

Lay the shirt on your cutting mat. Flatten out any pleats so you get two flat layers. Pin the old pillowcase down with washers. If you don’t have an old cover to work from, Measure a 19″ square with your ruler for a standard 18″ pillow.

Place the cover off-centered over the front buttons. By placing it off-center, you have less puckering/bulging at the opening. And it looks cool.


Cut out your square, leaving about a 1/2″ seam allowance on all sides. Eyeballing is a-okay.



Turn right sides towards each other, pin and sew all four sides together.


Un-do the buttons and turn right-side out. Iron out the corners.


Place the pillow form inside, fluff and done!


Super easy. No worries about enclosures, no hemming, nothing. This is the easiest thing you’ll do all week. Promise.


Before & After: Basic Leather Chair



This post is sponsored by Leather Hide Store. Find a massive variety of high quality upholstery-weight leather at a great price.

Connect with Leather Hide store on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


I’ve had this seat for *gosh* nearly 3 years. It’s been patiently awaiting a loving touch in the corner of my studio. For the life of me I can’t find a before picture, but it’s not too terribly hard to imagine: dark oak legs and a 70s poo brown tweed cover over the seat cushions. It’s a simple silhouette. And for being so old and well-used (it was formerly a chair on BYU campus), it was in fabulous condition. A few scuffs and scrapes on the legs and a whole lot of dust.


Sitting on it was a dusty, scratchy experience. I felt like it could be easily elevated out of its sad state with a little bit of paint and leather. Unfortunately for everyone, it took a year to attack the upholstery once I started to take it apart.


It wasn’t that the upholstery work was terribly difficult. In fact, once I started the job, it wasn’t hard at all. The square shape of the upholstery made drafting up a pattern for the new cover super easy. And it didn’t take up a ton of material either. I don’t think I had more than 1/4th of a hide here and I had just enough to cover the entire thing.


The hardest part about the upholstery job was that Felix put a bolt inside one of the holes sideways (how he got it in there, I have no idea) so I spent a good hour working on getting it out.

I split a small part of the wood getting the legs on (see the above pic), but overall, it came together quite nicely. Putting the back panel of leather on was the most terrifying thing because I had to measure so precisely, account for the stretch of leather and use the most deadly upholstery tacks to nail into the frame so there are no raw edges. I’m sure those tacks were meant to go only through fabric, so it was a bit tough to get them to go through 2, sometimes 4, layers of 2 oz. leather.


Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. I think it looks nicely finished, and guests aren’t afraid to sit in the chair anymore! It also adds a lot of lightness to that corner of our living/family room. The old chair blended right in to the dark wood flooring.


Materials used:

Here’s a run-down of the process:

I took off the legs, measured the seat and drafted up flat paper patterns of the seat. I used a 5/8 seam allowance and made sure to write out the SA on every pattern piece.

After the patterns were done and checked against the existing chair, I cut out the leather. Since there were a lot of squares, each pattern piece was labeled and the leather was clipped to the pattern pieces until I sewed them so I could leave and come back to the project and know what pieces were sewed together and where.

From there, I got a bit freaked out about the sewing aspect of it all and switched to finishing the legs.

I used BB Frösch chalk paint for the legs, which was a huge time saver. No sanding or priming required. Just paint and go! The matte finish is pretty great, too. It makes me wish this had been around when we did our rocking chair eeons ago!

After I got the legs done, I (with the help of my intern last year) removed the prior upholstery. I wish we had done this outside because dust, old fabric fibers and countless number of staples just sprinkled my studio floor for weeks. Even now I still find a random staple. This chair had hundreds of hundreds of staples keeping the material on the frame! The dusty fabric made my studio smell horribly for days.

I sewed up the seams on the sides of each section (the top and bottom cushions are two separate pieces) and fit the leather on. I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the fit, thankfully, but I realized I needed to reinforce the ends of the seams so that they wouldn’t come undone. I grabbed my waxed linen thread for that and sewed up those ends for strength. Once I got the top and bottom cushions done, I affixed the legs, attached the back portion and then covered the bottom. I cleaned everything up and conditioned with leather conditioner and voila! It took me several months to complete it, but if I had worked continuously on the project, it wouldn’t have taken me longer than a Saturday morning and afternoon. I just got nervous about each step so I would take long breaks.



So there you have it! Read more for details on the living room!


DIY: Having Fun with Plain Wrapping Paper


I don’t have giant stashes of gorgeous wrapping paper. I have rolls of white, black and kraft butcher paper. And the occasional roll of gift wrap. But it doesn’t always match my mood or occasion, so here’s a fun little DIY I did to dress up my gifts this year.


Santa doesn’t have this much creativity when it comes to his gift wrap. That would take him way too long.


The key to this whole operation is in the marker. Some time ago Sakura sent me their Pigma Professional brush series. I use them for everything. Heck, they’re even in our brush lettering kits that I send out to all of my beginning brush students. These brushes come in 3 sizes: fine, medium and BOLD. I use the fine brush for small detailed work and little illustrations. I’ll use the medium in cases where my x-height letters are about 3/4″ tall. The bold I’ll use for everything else.

The bold brush is pretty stiff so you still get very fine hairlines even though you can get a ton of drama out of the side of the marker.


And when mine dry out, I’ll use them on textured paper for a more organic look (like above). Want to learn how to make these easy-peasy holly berries? Watch the video below.


  • Pigma Professional BB Brush
  • Large sheet of white or kraft paper
  • Sakura Koi red marker (optional)

I love the BB brush, but you can get similar results from even a crayola marker. Granted, if you want this kind of drama to scale, you’ll need to make smaller holly berries and leaves.

Basic jist: get a piece of paper and spread it out on the floor or table. Draw out the berries first in random clusters of 3. Then draw in the center of the leaves, coming out from the berries with a light touch. A fine line helps. Then fill in the remainder of the leaves with two mountains and meeting just beyond the tip of the center line of the leaf. Fill in any awkward blank spaces with leaves. Messy is usually better in this case.


If you want to go for a more ornamental approach, draw out a berry grouping on cardstock. Watercolor paper is going to give your cluster more texture and depth. Punch a hole near the cluster of berries.


With your scissors, cut around the cluster leaving a 1/4″-1/2″ border. Thread through ribbon or string and use as a decoration on your gift.


Easy? Brainless? Awesome? Yes to all three. Happy last-minute gift-giving and wrapping!!

TUTORIAL: DIY Ink/Paint Holder


I made this and shot pictures like 2-3 years ago. I just discovered it while cleaning up images on my desktop (which is a hot mess) and figured I would share. I’m sure it’s been done various other places, but I need to cross this off my list so here we go.


I found myself wanting small jars for mixing custom ink colors in gouache (for calligraphy, but works for any aqueous media) and then tipping them over. Constantly. We replaced the flooring in my studio not long ago because of how horribly stained it got. Also, I hate carpet.

So I made this little ink tray. You may want to, too.



Cut down your block to 12″ wide. Sand the edges so they’re smooth to the touch.


Mark out every inch along the board with a pencil. Optional: create an indent with the tip of the screw so your bit won’t slip around as you start the process.


Measure how deep you want the drill to go and tape it off. This will allow you to have consistent heights when you put your jars in the board.


Drill away! Go slowly and make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area with protective glasses.


Admire your handywork!


Use the sticky tack to apply to the bottoms of your jars so they don’t move around. it also helps tilt the jars when the ink gets low.

This tutorial or freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without the express consent of Melissa Esplin. I love getting shout outs from around the web, but please, link with love. You may publish 1 photo along with credit back to the original post. If you would like to use this tutorial or freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!
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